Present simple

Learn about the present simple and do the exercises to practise using it.

Level: beginner

The present tense is the base form of the verb:

I work in London. 

But with the third person singular (she/he/it), we add an –s:

She works in London.

Present simple questions

Look at these questions:

Do you play the piano?
Where do you live?

Does Jack play football?
Where does he come from?

Do Rita and Angela live in Manchester?
Where do they work?

We use do and does to make questions with the present simple. We use does for the third person singular (she/he/it) and do for the others.

We use do and does with question words like where, what and when:

Where do Angela and Rita live?
What does Angela do?
When does Rita usually get up?

But questions with who often don't use do or does:

Who lives in London?
Who plays football at the weekend?
Who works at Liverpool City Hospital?

Here are some useful questions. Try to remember them:

Where do you come from?
Do you come from …?
Where do you live?
Do you live in ...?
What work do you do?
Do you like …?
Do you know …?

 
Present simple questions 1

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Present simple questions 2

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Present simple questions 3

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Present simple questions 4

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Present simple negatives

Look at these sentences:

I like tennis but I don't like football. (don't = do not)
I don't live in London now.
I don't play the piano but I play the guitar.
They don't work at the weekend.
John doesn't live in Manchester.
(doesn't = does not)
Angela doesn't drive to work. She goes by bus.

We use do and does to make negatives with the present simple. We use doesn't for the third person singular (she/he/it) and don't for the others.

Present simple negatives 1

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Present simple negatives 2

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Present simple and present time

We use the present simple to talk about:

  • something that is true in the present:

I'm nineteen years old.
I'm a student.
He lives in London.

  • something that happens regularly in the present:

I play football every weekend.

  • something that is always true:

The human body contains 206 bones.
Light travels at almost 300,000 kilometres per second.

We often use adverbs of frequency like sometimes, always and never with the present simple:

I sometimes go to the cinema.
She never plays football.

Here are some useful sentences. Complete them so that they are true for you and try to remember them:

My name is … .
I'm … years old.
I come from … .
I live in … .
I'm a(n) … .
I … at the weekend.
I often … .
I never … .

Complete these sentences so that they are true for a friend and try to remember them:

Her/His name is … .
She's/He's … years old.
She/He comes from … .
She/He lives in … .
She's/He's a(n) … .
She/He … at the weekend.
She/He often … .
She/He never … .
Present simple 1

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Present simple 2

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Present simple 3

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Present simple 4

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Present simple 5

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Present simple 6

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Present simple 7

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Level: intermediate

Present simple and future time

We also use the present simple to talk about:

  • something that is fixed in the future:

The school term starts next week.
The train leaves at 19.45 this evening.
We fly to Paris next week.

  • something in the future after time words like when, after and before and after if and unless:

I'll talk to John when I see him.
You must finish your work before you go home.

If it rains we'll get wet.
He won't come unless you ask him.

Present simple 8

ex. Present simple 8

Level: advanced

We sometimes use the present simple to talk about the past when we are: 

  • telling a story:

I was walking down the street the other day when suddenly this man comes up to me and tells me he has lost his wallet and asks me to lend him some money. Well, he looks a bit dangerous so I'm not sure what to do and while we are standing there 

  • summarising a book, film or play:

Harry Potter goes to Hogwarts School. He has two close friends, Hermione and …

Shakespeare's Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark. One night he sees his father's ghost. The ghost tells him he has been murdered 

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Submitted by DaniWeebKage on Fri, 16/10/2020 - 02:58

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It says We use the present simple to talk about fixed in the future. Then, When does this show end? Or When will this show end? Does the meaning change? Can I use both? Thank a lot.

 

Hello DaniWeebKage,

In this context both are possible.

 

The present simple is used for future time when events are regular or part of a schedule. It is similar to asking 'What time is the show supposed to/meant to finish?'

The modal verb will is used for predictions of particular events. It is similar to asking 'What time do you think/expect the show to finish?'

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by DaniWeebKage on Thu, 15/10/2020 - 11:34

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Could you please explain to me why the present simple is used in talking about the Past? What If I use Past simple instead of Present Simple, Does the meaning change?

Hi DaniWeebKage,

Sure! This is quite commonly done when we tell a story or summarise one.

The story events are, of course, past events (i.e. they have already happened). But, using the present tense has a particular effect: it catches listeners' attention and engages them in the story. This is because the present simple presents the story as something that develops and unfolds as the listeners listen. There is a feeling that the story is happening now (i.e. in the moment of telling it). It's a really effective storytelling technique :)

As you suggest, it's also possible to tell a story using the past simple (with other past tenses). This way, you present the story to the listeners as something that happened some time ago, distant from the present moment. It doesn't have the immediate, engaging effect of the present simple.

I just want to emphasise that the present simple is used to talk about the past for these specific conversational actions: telling or summarising a story. We can't use the present simple to talk about past actions in general.

Does that make sense?

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by LilyLinSZ on Fri, 02/10/2020 - 14:10

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Hi teachers, I would like to know why the future simple is used instead of the present simple in the following sentences 1. the presumption will not apply to overseas companies. 2. A connected person will not be permitted to vote on the resolution approving the transaction 3. In deciding whether to grant an exemption, the Committee will take into account a number of factors. My view is that these sentences are about general rules and facts. So I am confused about the use of the future simple here. Many thanks!

Hello LilyLinSZ,

You're right in thinking that the present simple could be used here. I can't say for sure why they use the future without knowing more, but I'd say it's because these three phrases/sentences are from quite formal contexts. 'will' is often used in formal situations to speak of rules or official arrangements, or to issue commands. 

Does that make sense?

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi LilyLinSZ,

It's hard to give a detailed explanation without knowing the context in which a given sentence appears, but I'll comment as far as I can.

1. the presumption will not apply to overseas companies.

This sentence may be describing something which is not yet in effect, or it could be a prediction about the present. The speaker could be speculating about the current situation.

 

2. A connected person will not be permitted to vote on the resolution approving the transaction

The sentence describes a particular vote in the future. The rule may apply to votes in general, but the speaker is referencing a particular vote.

 

3. In deciding whether to grant an exemption, the Committee will take into account a number of factors.

Again, this references a particular decision in the future.

 

By the way, the term 'future simple' is not one we generally use. Will is not a tense, but rather a modal verb like might, should, may and so on. Will often describes future time but so does might, and both can also describe present time.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Timothy555 on Sun, 13/09/2020 - 12:40

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Hi, One of the use of the simple present tense, as mentioned in the article above, is to express "something that is true in the present". My queries are: (a) Does this only refer to something that is definitely true at the present moment, or does it also include things which we think are true? (b) Does this refer to something that is always true at the present moment, but not in the past or future, for example "I don't like mushrooms" (meaning to say I didnt like mushrooms in the past, and I may or may not like it in the future, but one thing is that right now in the present, I don't like mushroom). May I know if this the right understanding? and is my example correct? (c) Other examples that i can think of to support the second point i made above are: " I really love my job. Mrs Clare doesn’t teach me but she teaches my sister. Do you live in Glasgow? My cousin lives there too. Spiders don’t frighten me. Martha does what she wants. No one tells her what to do." Essentially, what i mean by my examples above is that these are things which are true in the present (i.e. now), but may or may not be true in the past and future. Am I right to use the simple present tense for the above examples? Thanks. Regards, Tim
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Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 15/09/2020 - 08:28

In reply to by Timothy555

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Hello Tim,

Unless we use an adverb such as 'probably' or 'maybe', or an adverbial phrase such as 'as far as I know', the present simple expresses something the speaker believes to be true. Of course, the speaker may be mistaken.

The present simple does not preclude a change in the future, but it does imply that the speaker does not anticipate or foresee any change. Thus, if I say 'I live in Paris' then I know that this may change, but I do not see any change at the moment; from my perspective it is a settled truth. On the other hand, if I say 'I'm living in Paris' then I see the situation as temporary. I may not have any plans to change it at the moment, but I do not expect it to last forever.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by PabloTT on Sat, 22/08/2020 - 10:57

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Hi teacher, We need more time to see how things develop before we take action. I will know within the next month or two how I stand. Why is the simple present tense used (how things develop; how I stand) instead of simple future tense (how things will develop; how I will stand)?

Submitted by Lakshmi94216 on Tue, 18/08/2020 - 09:33

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Hi, In the following two sentences, could I use the simple present tense instead? 1) Her best performance to date was her third place at the World Junior Championships. 2) Penicillin was the forerunner of modern antibiotics.
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Submitted by Jonathan R on Wed, 19/08/2020 - 11:15

In reply to by Lakshmi94216

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Hi Lakshmi94216,

Yes! These could both be considered as general facts or truths, so the present simple works. But, I think using the past simple would probably be more common.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Why is the past simple the more preferred and common choice? Is it because the event did happen in the past, even though it is still true? Thanks teacher.

Hi Lakshmi94216,

Yes. We could understand these as general truths, but because both sentences refer explicitly to the past (Her best performance to date / the forerunner of modern ...), it would be usual to present them as past events.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Sun, 16/08/2020 - 23:54

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The tips are really helpful.

Submitted by Ahmad Aboud on Sun, 02/08/2020 - 09:49

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Would you please anyone explain to me why we use present tense in this sentence I get a text from Jennifer and it says, do you have a belt? Thank you

Hello Ahmad Aboud,

It might be correct to say 'get' in a specific context, but usually that would be 'get'. I'd need to see the full context to be able to make sense of it.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Linh Dao on Sat, 18/07/2020 - 20:01

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Hello, I really need help to clarify this. If I have a sentence: We're going to the restaurant tomorrow. Do you want to join us? Is it possible if I said "Will you want to join us?". I know it does not sound very natural using "will" here and it should be the present simple. But I don't know why? Thank you!
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 19/07/2020 - 09:14

In reply to by Linh Dao

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Hello Linh Dao,

Want describes our feelings or desires, so it's normal to use the present tense in this context. You might use will if you are asking if they can come:

Do you want to come?

I want to, but I don't know if I will be able to.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Santhosh Reddy on Fri, 19/06/2020 - 13:21

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Hi, We use Present Simple to talk about 1. Something which is true in present. Examples: he is 19 yrs old. She is doctor. He is tall 2. Some thing which is always true Example: Human body contains 206 bones From above i understood if something is true in present the IS makes the sentence If some thing is always true then sentence forms with base form of a verb Is my understanding correct? If so, Below sentence also always true but they formed with IS It is a car. America is a country. That is tree Please clarify my doubts. Regards, Santhosh.
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Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 19/06/2020 - 15:13

In reply to by Santhosh Reddy

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Hello Santhosh

The verb 'contains' is not the base form of the verb -- 'contain' is the base form. Both 'contains' and 'is' are the third person singular form of the verb 'be'.

You can use most any verb in the present simple to express either something true in the present or something which is always true.

Hope this helps.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Miss Victoria on Tue, 19/05/2020 - 11:43

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Hello The questions with who often don't use do or does. However, Who does this umbrella belong to is correct. Please could you comment it?
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Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 20/05/2020 - 07:23

In reply to by Miss Victoria

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Hello Miss Victoria,

Subject questions do not use an extra auxiliary verb like do or does. For example:

Who owns this umbrella?

(Paul owns this umbrella)

[a subject question asking about the subject of the verb own]

 

Object questions use an auxiliary verb with inversion:

Who does this umbrella belong to?

(This umbrella belongs to Paul)

[an object question asking about the object of the verb and preposition belong to]

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Helen Mg Mg on Fri, 24/04/2020 - 09:39

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Hi My question is the difference between these two sentenses. I am from Manchester . I come from Manchester.
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Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 25/04/2020 - 07:34

In reply to by Helen Mg Mg

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Hello Helen Mg Mg

In another specific context, there could be a difference in meaning, but assuming that someone is saying where they live, there is no difference in meaning here. We often use 'be' and 'come' in a sentence like this, but they mean the same thing.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Pablo. on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 00:55

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Simple present: its formation is very easy ,the present verb form is used For example Susan lives in london(Susan lives in london) Present progressive: The auxiliary to be is used plus the gerund of the main verb that is ,the form ending in- ing. For example I go to cinema (I am going to the cinema ).

Submitted by Jonathan FV on Tue, 24/03/2020 - 22:57

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Personally it seems to me that starting with a good use of the present simple is a great progress in the development of English thanks to its usefulness and its induction to the world of English. It is very interesting to progress with this using English in activities of our liking.

Submitted by Diego Navarro on Tue, 24/03/2020 - 19:50

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I think that the present simple is very important to practice and clarify some doubts I really like that topic just practice it more.

Submitted by Seiris U on Tue, 24/03/2020 - 01:30

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I think that the simple present is very important and it helped me a lot to practice and clarify some doubts.

Submitted by Alexander. on Tue, 24/03/2020 - 00:21

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the progressive present indicates actions that happen while we speak, while the simple present is used to express habitual actions or permanent situations.

Submitted by IsaacAC on Mon, 23/03/2020 - 23:58

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I think simple present is the base to start talking english. Is very important to study it because is the root of all. I recommend to watch movies in english with subtitles and listen to music reading the lyrics

Submitted by Erikacastillo on Mon, 23/03/2020 - 23:02

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Hi An easy way to study the present simple is: do not forget that the verb is used in its base form, only -S When the sentence is negative the auxiliary do not (don't) or does not (doesn't) is used. when questions are asked we use the do or does for example Do you play piano? The do we use with (I, you, we, they) and does (she, he, it) We must not forget that there are signal words that indicate when we use the present simple (always, usually, often, sometimes, never) And remember that the present simple is used for habits and routines (repeated actions)

Submitted by katherine cerd… on Mon, 23/03/2020 - 22:24

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I feel that this is a good tool to learn and continue studying English and I would not be so late with the subject.

Submitted by Yinia on Mon, 23/03/2020 - 21:54

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If you want learn English This is the place You can use the perfect simple to: Express habits, general truths, repeated actions or unchanging situations, emotions and wishes. Give instructions or directions. Express fixed arrangements, present or future. Express future time, after some conjunctions: after, when, before, as soon as, until

Submitted by Daya on Mon, 23/03/2020 - 21:23

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We use does in third person ( she, he and it) and do in the others persons(I,you,we, they), we use the question with does or do. Also, we begin the question with What, Where or When, later does or do depending on the subject.

Submitted by Evelio on Mon, 23/03/2020 - 20:49

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Is really nice learn english in this page with good examples and more

Submitted by Angie Valverde… on Mon, 23/03/2020 - 20:37

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when we have he, she and it, we add "s" to the verb. For example: she learns French. And when we have I, we, you, they, we use the base form. For example: Ana and Mario learn French.

Submitted by Esme25 on Mon, 23/03/2020 - 20:25

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We can use the present simple to talk about somenting its true in the present, For example: I have 2 siblings, I'm twenty years old. Also, the present simple has the auxiliary Do (this is use with the subjets: I, YOU,WE and THEY) and Does ( It's use with the subject: SHE, HE, IT) PRESENT PROGRESSIVE: It's use to show an actions action is happening now at the moment you are speaking. For example: You are learning English now.

Submitted by Vale on Mon, 23/03/2020 - 18:16

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The simple present is used: To express habits,general truths,repeated actions or unchanging situations, emotions and wishes. To express fixed arrangements, present or future To express future time, after some conjuctions : After, when, before, as son as, until

Submitted by Andrés Arias Q. on Mon, 23/03/2020 - 16:43

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Nice exercises and explanations. If you are a beginner, this is going to help you a lot.

Submitted by Henok17 on Tue, 17/03/2020 - 15:03

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Hi gentlemen I want to ask the difference between the following sentences. I do care about you. I care about you. what is the differnce between adding "do'' why don't you ask me ? why do you not ask me ? some people use ''not'' before the subject pronoun.

Hello Henokk17

In the first pair of sentences, the first one (with auxiliary 'do') is more emphatic than the second one. Someone might say this when, for example, the other person they are talking to says that they don't care about them. By saying 'I do care', you could show that you think the other person is wrong.

In the second pair of sentences, there is no difference in meaning, but the first one is more informal and the second more formal.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

is different, because in the first case: I do care: It re-states the meaning for the other person that you care in the second: I care also means that you care but with less intensity than the other, in this case "do" works as an adverb to make emphasis on the other verb , and not as an action "do"
that happens because "do" is more formal. Also because it is an auxiliary and the "do" is used for I, you, we, they. Also for example for me to say They "do not" study French to pass it to a shorter answer they don't study French

Submitted by KA Juwo on Sat, 04/01/2020 - 14:42

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I ve seen present simple in mama-called-the-doctor-and-the-doctor-said.-no-more-monkeys-jumping-on-the-bed situations. May be by a teacher or by an elder to kids, No one touches my things, leaves the room untill I am back etc. Will you through some light, please?

Submitted by gaudentiaresika on Wed, 18/12/2019 - 14:04

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Hi I'm wondering why do we sometimes use present simple when we narrate a past event? Can you explain it to us? Thanks!
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Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 19/12/2019 - 07:35

In reply to by gaudentiaresika

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Hello gaudentiaresika,

This is a stylistic choice. Present forms can be used to make a narrative more immediate and direct. They are sometimes used in literature for this effect - The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins are examples of novels writen using present forms.

Present forms are particularly common in anecotes and jokes, and also when describing sporting events, either as commentary or when describing them later.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Bobby Glazed on Sun, 01/09/2019 - 12:36

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Is this question a Present simple tense? Who will cook dinner tonight?

Hello Bobby Glazed

No, I'm afraid that is a 'will' + infinitive form, which seems to be used to talk about willingness here (see point 3 on our Talking about the future page). 'Who cooks dinner tonight?' uses the present simple.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team